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TIP: Easy Appetizer Napoleons


Avocado-portabella napoleon with lavash
layers. Photo © Delicious Knowledge |
California Avocado Commission


When most of us think of napoleons, we think of a mille-feuille (millefoglie in Italian), filled with custard.

Mille-feuille means “thousand leaves,” three rectangular sheets of puff pastry spread with Bavarian cream, pastry cream, whipped cream, custard, jam or fruit purée, often dusted with confectioner’s sugar, and cut into individual rectangular portions. When filled with custard and iced with chocolate, the pastry is called a napoleon.

But there are savory napoleons too. And in this recipe by Alexandra Caspero | Redux Recipe for the California Avocado Commission, they’re a lot easier to make than their pastry counterparts.

Instead of using the tricky puff pastry or phyllo, this recipe uses lavash, the Middle Eastern flatbread. You can substitute another soft flatbread, such as a tortilla.

Napoleon History

The mille-feuille is most likely a descendant of layered phyllo pastries like baklava. It is believed that the napoleon, and mille-feuille pastry, was developed by the great chef Antoine Carême. See mille-feuille. Three layers of puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) are filled with pastry cream and iced with fondant.

An “American napoleon” has a heavily marbleized chocolate and vanilla fondant top, looking more like Jackson Pollack than the neat French napoleon. An “Italian napoleon” adds layers of rum-soaked sponge cake. Some variations layer fruit, such as raspberries, in the pastry cream.

Food fact: The napoleon pastry was not named after France’s famous general and emperor. The name is believed to be a corruption of the word “napolitain” (napolitano in Italian), referring to a pastry made in the tradition of Naples, Italy.


This stack of grilled portabella mushrooms and creamy avocados layered between crispy lavash with a lemon-basil mayo, is a delicious vegetarian appetizer or a fancy snack.

You can vary the vegetables.

  • For the mushroom: summer squash, zucchini or other grilled vegetable(s)
  • For the avocado: onion, tomato
  • For the spinach: arugula, watercress,

    You can also add another element or two; for example, thinly-sliced cucumber (plain or marinated) or sprouts.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 portabella mushroom cap*, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large ripe avocado (about 8 ounces), peeled, seeded and
    sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade (thinly strips)
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 whole-wheat lavash wrap, cut into 6 equal pieces (substitute tortillas or other flavorful wraps)


    Portabella mushroom caps. Photo courtesy


    1. PREHEAT a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Lightly rub olive oil into mushroom slices, season with salt/pepper or all-purpose seasoning. When pan is hot, add mushroom slices and grill 3-4 minutes per side, until slightly charred. Remove from grill and set aside.

    2. ADD the sliced lavash pieces to the grill and heat 1-2 minutes per side until crispy. Remove and set aside.

    3. MAKE the lemon-basil mayonnaise: Combine the mayo, lemon juice, zest, and sliced basil.

    4. ASSEMBLE: Spread the mayonnaise on 4 slices of lavash bread. Stack with avocado slices, spinach and mushrooms. Top with a piece of lavash without spread. Add another layer of avocado, spinach, mushroom. Top with the final piece of lavash, spread side down.

    *Reserve the stems for an omelet or scramble, or slice for a salad.


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